You guys — I recently discovered a new candidate for the mother of all four-letter words. This one is a doozy. No record label is going to slap the word EXPLICIT on anyone’s album because it’s in the lyric, but I’m telling you, its sneaky, subtle savvy is dangerous.
This word has nothing to do with unmentionable things or behaviors and everything to do with our view of ourselves and ultimately, if I may be so bold, of the God who created us for a purpose.
This four-letter word is capable of belittling so many people, not the least of which is me.
Someone called me out for using this word about 8 years ago. Ever since then, I’ve noticed how easily it slides to the tip of my tongue. Sometimes the word has even escaped my mouth and I haven’t repented of using it.
However, when I hear it used unapologetically (or really, under the guise of counterfeit apology) by other women, I squirm in my seat. And, I hate to say it, but women are much more prone to abuse this word than men.
Get on with it, girl. What is this insipid word??
It’s the four-letter word, “JUST.”
Let me explain.
Years ago, I sat around a dinner table with other mothers of young children. We had finally slipped out of the house for a much-needed GNO and were grateful to smell of anything other than regurgitated applesauce. The volume of chortles escalated as one mom after another attempted to top each other’s “how-hard-was-it-for-you-to-get-out-of-the-house-tonight” stories.
As baskets of bread hit the table and drinks flowed, the lovely woman sitting on my left turned and introduced herself. She stated her name and told me she had four kids. To this day, I have no recollection of her name, but I do remember her response to me after I told her mine.
I said, “My name is Megan and I’m married to Scott. We just have two kids.”
In that moment she looked me straight in the eyeballs and said, “Honey, don’t you ever say that again.”
What?? The gall. I thought we were introducing ourselves. She could tell by my raised eyebrows, I was more than a little confused.
“You said you JUST have two kids. Neither one of those beautiful children is JUST anything. Each one is a unique, irreplaceable gift from God and you are the mother he has chosen for them.”
That mic drop put me square in my place.
The reminder of those words came flooding back to me recently as I sat in my usual Tuesday morning bible study. I adore the ladies I get to connect with every week and I was eager to hear each one share what she considered to be her personal calling in this season of life.
The minute one dear woman scrunched her nose, unsure of how to answer the question, and finally stuttered, “I don’t know what my calling is, I’m just a stay-at-home-mom,” my heart sunk.
There it was again. That nasty word. Just. Used to undermine our identity.
I’m just an elementary school teacher.
I’m just a nurse.
I’m just 5’4”.
I just work part-time.
I just stay home with the kids.
No one says:
I’m just a neuro-surgeon.
I’m just the executive director of thus and such.
I’m just the President of the United States. (Tweeted no man, ever.)
If you want to use the word to say, “I’m so tired. I just climbed Mt. Everest!” That’s solid. If you roll in from a long day at work and say, “Hey kids, can you give me a minute to put my stuff down, I just got home from work.” Again, legit.
But if you want to use the word to belittle your identity or convey yourself as “less than.” Can you please do me a favor, and consider wiping the word from your vocabulary for a while?
It just might change your day.
AMEN AMEN AMEN! I think we need to call that out in one another when we see it – that “just” mentality. I feel like NO MATTER which station in life I have been in, I have found myself thinking I could have done so much better. And that kind of thinking has NEVER been what propelled me further! I hope you called your sweet mama friend out on her use of that 4-letter word! Maybe it will make her lift her head just a tiny bit higher. Love this encouragement, M! And you’re JUST right.
This flies in the face of everything you are saying right now, but I actually kind of wish that I was “just” a stay at home mom, living minute by minute, doing the mundane, complaining of dirty diapers and runny noses. Maybe it is a contentment issue? Those who claim they are “just” something, feel like they need more purpose, and those who long to be “just” something, desire a different arrangement of circumstances. Paul, from the Bible, talks about how he is content, whether living in plenty or in want, and he writes this from a jail cell, I believe? I think I need a little more Paul in my outlook.
Megan here. One last mention:
PS — Take two minutes to watch this video! It’s an excellent depiction of how changing (rather, erasing) one word from a sentence can shift the atmosphere. And your confidence factor. Thank you, Pantene. #sorrynotsorry